February is Black History Month and we are honoring the men and women who played a pivotal role in shaping the American Red Cross. If it were not for these pioneers, the Red Cross would not be where it is today.
Frederick Douglass was a leading spokesman of African Americans in the 1800s and a friend of Clara Barton. He was there to support her in her efforts to gain U.S. acceptance as a member of the global Red Cross network. Most notably, as serving as Register of Deeds for the District of Columbia, Douglass signed the original Articles of Incorporation for the American Red Cross when they were submitted to municipal authorities. These articles legally documented the creation of the Red Cross.
Gwen T. Jackson was a dedicated volunteer leader throughout decades. Beginning as a volunteer in 1961, Jackson worked her way up to being the first African American to be appointed as the National Chairman of Volunteers for the American Red Cross in 1989. While serving with the Red Cross, Jackson provided assistance during major disasters, support during the Persian Gulf War, and provided a blueprint for future growth of volunteerism for the Red Cross. After serving on the American Red Cross Board of Governors in the 1990s, Jackson was awarded the Cynthia Wedel Award for her 50 years of dedication and volunteer leadership. This award is given to outstanding Red Cross volunteers. Jackson currently holds an appointment as Chair Emeritus of the American Red Cross Milwaukee Chapter.
Steve Bullock began his career with the Red Cross in 1962, working as a caseworker. His work took him throughout the United States, Europe, and Southeast Asia. Twenty years later he became the Chief Executive Officer and Chapter Manager of the Greater Cleveland Chapter. In 1999, Bullock was named acting president of the national agency in Washington D.C. after the recommendation of resigning president, Elizabeth Dole. As president, Bullock and his team brought 60,000 pounds of relief supplies to Macedonia to aid nearly 140,000 ethic Albanian refugees driven from their homes in Kosovo.
Without these trailblazers, the Red Cross would not be the organization we know and love today. We want to recognize these pioneers and their efforts for the Red Cross and the communities they served.